Nikon Z6 Vs Z7

Nikon Z6 Vs Z7

Nikon mirrorless camera system with large bayonet: Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 full-frame system cameras with Z bayonet

After the failed mirror-less Nikon 1 system with its small 1″ sensor, Nikon is launching a new attempt to gain a foothold in the segment of mirror-less system cameras (DSLM) with the significantly more ambitious Z 6 and Z 7 35 mm full-format models. Nikon wants to combine the advantages of previous DSLRs and DSLMs. The two cameras are technically and externally completely identical, with the exception of the image sensors with different resolutions. The new camera system also comes with a new, particularly large bayonet.

On the back, the Nikon Z 7 and Z 6 offer a 3.7 million pixel electronic viewfinder and an 8.1 centimeter touch OLED with 2.1 million pixel resolution. [Photo: Nikon]

The Z 7 is the first mirrorless full-format flagship of Nikon’s new Z-System. The full-format sensor is image-stabilized and integrates phase-autofocus sensors on 90 percent of the surface. [Photo: Nikon]

The Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 offer very good ergonomics thanks to the distinctive handle and the many control elements. In addition, an OLED on the top shows the most important recording settings. [Photo: Nikon]

Thanks to BSI CMOS technology, the Nikon Z 7’s 35mm full-format sensor is very light-sensitive and has a high resolution of 45.7 megapixels. Nine continuous frames per second and 4K video recording are also no problem. [Photo: Nikon]

Nikon’s philosophy of combining the advantages of different system approaches (with and without mirrors) does not focus exclusively on particularly small cameras, but rather on robustness and ergonomics. The Z 6 and Z 7 are not the most compact mirrorless system cameras, but they do save space and weight compared to a DSLR without sacrificing good ergonomics. The handle is clearly pronounced and has a deep recessed grip, and the housings are splash-proof and dustproof. The operating concept should be similar to that of Nikon’s DSLRs (and it is, as we found out in a first trial of pre-production models). Furthermore, the two DSLMs trigger quietly and offer a high serial frame rate.

At the heart of the Z 6 and Z 7 are the 35mm full-format sensors (36 x 24 millimetres) with 24.5 and 45.7 megapixels resolution, respectively, developed by Nikon and produced on behalf of other companies. The Z 6, which is around 1,400 euros cheaper, resolves 24.5 megapixels, with 273 phase autofocus sensors accommodated on 90 percent of the sensor surface. According to Nikon, they should not result in any loss of image quality. Twelve serial images per second are possible with this sensor, the ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 51,200, extended from ISO 50 to 204,800. The sensor of the Z 7 achieves 45.7 megapixel resolution and 493 phase autofocus measuring fields, which also cover 90 percent of the image field. The maximum continuous shooting rate is nine frames per second, the ISO sensitivity is ISO 64 to 25,600 and ISO 32 to 102,400 with extension. This makes the Z 6 not only the more affordable model, but also the more sporty and better suited for low-light, and the Z 7 is predestined for studio tasks, landscapes and architecture as well as fashion and portrait photography. These have also been the differences between Z 6 and Z 7.

The full-frame BSI CMOS sensor of the Nikon Z 6 achieves a resolution of “only” 24.5 megapixels, but it offers higher sensitivity and a 33 percent faster continuous shooting rate than the Z 7. [Photo: Nikon]

On the back, the Nikon Z 6 and the Z 7 are identical like one egg to another. So it is no problem to use both cameras in parallel and to prefer one or the other depending on the task. [Photo: Nikon]

What the sensors have in common is the rear-exposed design for more effective light output, while Nikon only dispenses with a low-pass filter on the Z 7, which has Z 6 as one. The Sensor Shift Image Stabilizer, which allows up to five aperture steps longer exposure times on five axes, is also celebrating a premiere. Image stabilization becomes even more effective in conjunction with an optical image stabilizer in the lens, which is particularly advantageous in the telephoto range. The robust shutter operates very quietly and is designed for 200,000 releases. The two Z system cameras also offer a silent electronic shutter, and a combination of electronic first and mechanical second shutter curtains is also possible.

The Z 6 and Z 7 record videos in 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160) with 30 frames per second. In Full HD, even 120 frames per second are possible for slow motion effects. Thanks to 10-bit HDMI output, Nikon says that a dynamic range of up to twelve f-stops can be achieved thanks to N-Log, and time codes can also be recorded. During recording, an additional electronic image stabilizer works for even smoother video recordings, and focus peaking can also be used during recording. All this is made possible by the new powerful Expeed 6 image processor.

The rear OLED touch screen of the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 can be folded up and down. [Photo: Nikon]

The memory card compartment of the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 only holds a comparatively expensive XQD or CF Express card. [Photo: Nikon]

The Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 offer many connections: Microphone and headphones (3.5 mm stereo jack each), USB type C, HDMI mini and remote release. [Photo: Nikon]

The electronic viewfinder has a high resolution of 3.69 million pixels (QVGA) on an OLED that operates at 60 frames per second. The 0.8x magnification provides a large viewfinder image. In addition, the viewfinder protrudes very far back, so that you don’t have to flatten your nose on the screen. Speaking of screens: This is an 8.1 centimeter (3.2 inches), 2.1 million pixel OLED with touch function, which can also be folded up and down. Of course, touch autofocus is supported, but not while looking through the viewfinder. Thanks to the joystick, the focus points can also be moved in a classic way.

At 55 millimetres, the new Z bayonet has a significantly larger inner diameter than the Nikon F bayonet, which only has a diameter of 47 millimetres. The Sony E bayonet, originally designed for APS-C only, has an inside diameter of only 46.5 millimetres. The back focal distance, on the other hand, is particularly small at 16 millimetres, which is an advantage especially in the wide-angle range. Thanks to the F bayonet adapter (FTZ), which costs only 150 euros extra, almost all Nikkor lenses can be operated with the new Z cameras without restrictions. All you have to do is bring your own autofocus motor (AF-S and AF-P lenses), and they should focus just as quickly as on a Nikon DSLR. Sigma lenses from other manufacturers also worked during a short test on the adapter. The age-old, external aperture driver is not supported, however, here the Nikon DF remains the only DSLR model that masters this.

The Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 are extremely robust magnesium housings. [Photo: Nikon]

In addition, numerous seals protect the interior of the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 as well as the lens (here the 24-70 mm F4) from dust and moisture. [Photo: Nikon]

The electronic viewfinder of the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 has a high-quality optical construction for good image quality and fatigue-free working. In addition, the outer lens is dirt-repellent thanks to a fluorine coating and is easy to clean. [Photo: Nikon]

A toad, however, must be swallowed by buyers of a Nikon Z 6 or Z 7: The cameras offer only a single memory card slot, which is also an XQD slot. The cards are very rarely used so far, the selection is accordingly small, but the price is particularly high. Theoretically, XQD cards are a little faster and more robust than SD memory cards, but in practice the difference is currently not very big. CF Express cards can also be inserted into the XQD slot. It remains to be hoped that the number of memory card providers will increase and the price will fall accordingly.

The Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 are equipped with modern interfaces. Both are capable of WLAN, Bluetooth and Snapbridge in the latest version. Unlike before, the WLAN interface is open again, so it can also be used without Snapbridge. An access from the computer to the camera including remote control possibility is not a problem and Nikon also plans so. This is the Japanese manufacturer’s response to the ongoing criticism. The HDMI interface comes in the mini version, the USB connection in the type C version. Not only can the battery be charged, but the camera can also be permanently supplied with power, from a power bank also mobile, which simplifies long time-lapse shots, for example, which the Z 7 can even convert into 8K videos. In addition, a stereo microphone input, a headphone output and a remote release connector are built in (the classic square one from Nikon). Even a TTL system flash shoe is not missing, only the buyers have to do without an integrated flash.

The FTZ bayonet adapter allows the connection of AF-S- and AF-P-Nikkoren to the Z 6 and Z 7, here the AF-S 28 mm F1.4. [Photo: Nikon]

The FTZ bayonet adapter offers the full autofocus support of the AF-S 28 mm F1.4 and other autofocus lenses on the Z 6 and Z 7. Thanks to the tripod thread on the adapter, the combination on the tripod is not so top-heavy. [Photo: Nikon]

There is also good news from the battery front: Nikon relies on the well-known EN-EL15 type family, which is also used in the D850, for example. Specifically, this is the EN-EL15b, but the older versions EN-EL15a and EN-EL15 also fit. Despite the great power, one battery is only sufficient for 330 shots from one charge. The monochrome OLED status display on the top of the camera is very elegant. In addition, Nikon is currently developing a battery handle of type MB-N10 for the Z 6 and Z 7. It should also be dust- and splash-proof and hold two batteries of type EN-EL15 for 1.8 times the battery range. They should be able to be charged directly in the handle via USB.

More than this 3D-printed first design study is not yet to be seen of the battery handle. It should be able to hold two batteries. Whether it will also have portrait format controls is unclear. [Photo: Clara Andersson]

Together with the FTZ bayonet adapter, the Nikon Z 7 should cost almost 3,850 Euros, the set with the standard zoom 24-70 mm F4 S should cost 4,300 Euros, with the FTZ adapter and the lens the price is almost 4,450 Euros. The respective kits of the Z 6 with adapter, with lens as well as with lens and adapter are each 1,400 Euros cheaper, so they come to 2,450, 2,900 and 3,050 Euros.

Firmware update 2.00 for Nikon Z6 and Z7: Now with eye autofocus

After two announcements in January and February 2020, the firmware update 2.00 for the mirrorless full frame system cameras Nikon Z6 and Z7 is finally available. In addition to the promised eye autofocus, there is also an improved low-light autofocus, which still works with the Z6 in significantly less ambient light than with the higher resolution Z7. Furthermore, the firmware update provides exposure tracking for the serial shot function and some minor improvements.

With the firmware update 2.0 the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 get an eye autofocus. The focused eye is outlined in yellow. A small arrow indicates that you can switch to another eye with the focus selector. [Photo: Nikon]

With the update to firmware 2.00, the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 now recognize not only faces but also eyes in the corresponding autofocus mode. This is especially helpful for portrait photography with shallow depth of field. The photographer can easily switch between several recognized eyes. Of course, eye autofocus works not only in AF-S mode, but also in AF-C mode. Another autofocus improvement concerns focusing in low light conditions. After the update, the Z 7 can still focus to -2 instead of -1 LW as before, the Z 6 can even focus to -3.5 LW instead of -2 LW as before.

But the continuous shooting function also benefits from the firmware update. The Z 6 and Z 7 now not only track the focus, but also the exposure in continuous-advance H mode. Other minor improvements include a shorter black-out phase for automatic image control, exposure with electronic first shutter curtain, which can now be automatically activated by the camera when needed, revised help texts, a few minor bugs in the video function and My Menu, and a change in the color of the focus area when the AF On button is pressed.

The Nikon Z 7 focuses after the firmware update 2.00 to -2 instead of only -1 LW.

The Nikon Z 6 focuses after the firmware update 2.00 to -3.5 instead of only -2 LW. [Photo: Nikon]

Further details about the firmware updates and the operation of the new functions can be found on the Nikon support website (see further links). There you can also download the updates and read how to install them. If you are not confident enough to do this yourself, you should contact your specialist dealer or Nikon Service. The promised compatibility to CFexpress memory cards and the raw video recording function, however, Nikon wants to deliver with a later firmware update.

Nikon repairs image stabilizers of Z 6 and Z 7: Service note

As Nikon announces in a service note, the image stabilizer does not unfold its full potential in some delivered mirrorless system cameras of the types Z 6 and Z 7. The Japanese manufacturer was able to identify the affected serial numbers and offers a free repair. Buyers of the two camera models can enter their serial number online and have it checked directly whether their camera is also affected. More information about the procedure can be found on the Nikon support website.

Using the serial number, buyers of the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7 can check online whether their model is affected by a defective image stabilizer. The repair is free of charge. [Photo: Nikon]

3D LUT for N-Log available for Nikon Z 6 and Z 7: For better brightness and color grading

For videographers, Nikon now offers a special 3D LUT (lookup table) matching the Z 6 and Z 7 for download. This makes it even easier to correct colors and brightness values in 10-bit recorded videos. The firmware update for raw video recording, on the other hand, is still to come. However, Nikon now announced that a change to the camera hardware at a service partner’s is also necessary. After all, the Z 6 and Z 7 would then be the first photo cameras with raw video recording.

Nikon today introduces a special LUT (Lookup Table) for N-Log videography with the Nikon Z7 and Z6 cameras. In the course of this year a new firmware update for these cameras will be released, which supports RAW video output directly from the camera. With the announced firmware version, the Nikon Z7 and Z6 cameras will be the first consumer system cameras with RAW video output support currently only available on professional film cameras. Like RAW photo files, RAW video files contain particularly rich image information. With support for RAW video output, Nikon’s mirrorless cameras now offer even more flexibility in post-processing color gradation. They are therefore comparable to professional film cameras, which makes them an inexpensive option for professional film productions. The N-Log HDMI output for Z7 and Z6 video recordings is optimized for 10-bit recording, making full use of the dynamic range of the image sensor. The video material recorded with N-Log therefore contains a maximum amount of relevant image information. The Nikon 3D LUT is used as a look profile to convert the video material recorded with N-Log to the standard Rec.709 while preserving the image information. The 3D LUT for N-Log is available in several versions so that users can easily achieve different effects. The LUT will be available for free download from the Nikon Download Center on the Z6 and Z7 pages: https://downloadcenter.nikonimglib.com/.Bitte Please note that to activate RAW video output, an internal camera setting must be adjusted by a local Nikon service station. This service is subject to local charges.

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Peter Dench
I am Peter Dench. Digital Photographer, born in London 1972, currently living in Deerfield, near Chicago. I have numerous photography expositions and also working in model photography. In this website, PhotoPoint, I usually review cameras provided by local dealers in Illinois and by the manufacturers. Sometimes I, Peter Dench, review lenses too, but only when I have a suitable camera for them. Please let me know in the comments if I can improve any of these articles.